Wine Blogging Wednesday #69: Did you hear me howling “mourvedre”?

This month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday, hosted by The Passionate Foodie, asks us to sniff out some “dog strangler” wine aka mourvedre.  So, for the 69th edition Wine Blogging Wednesday that’s what I did.

Actually I began my search for wines with mourvedre nearly two years ago when I first tasted a 2001 rbj theologicum which blends 50% of the mourvedre sinner with 50% of the saintly grenache.

I thought I’d died and gone to heaven and hell all at once.

Instead, I was on a search to find a wine I could barely pronounce, and which I could barely find. Fortuantely for me, the grateful Palate Warehouse used to be located only a few miles away and they would periodically  open their doors and let us in.

And that’s how I discovered a straight mourvedre–a rbj 2002 Mataro which I opened on a camping trip in the heart of the Sierras.

So when I discovered this month’s Wine Blogging Wednesday featured possibly my favorite varietal, and certainly one that makes my favorite blends shine, I howled with delight.

And then howled some more–what wine to choose? Or more precisely, whose?

An obvious choice would be Twisted Oak. Their mourvedre with the macabre red skull emblazened across the bottle is stunningly good. And they do my favorite blend mourvedre, grenache and syrah aka “Potty Mouth” that I love–especially the 2003 which is still available in their library.

Another obvious choice is Randall Grahm’s Bonny Doon. It seems he recovered rhone varietals like grenache and mourvedre from obscurity in California. And his Cigar Volant is always noteworthy.

So after much agonizing and howling at the crescent moon, I went for a winery I discovered in December and which maybe I can help you discover too (although they have thousands of facebook fans so obviously some people know them already!)

The wine with more than 50% mourvedre that I chose for this edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday comes from Core Winery, run by Dave and Becky Corey, with financial backing and support from many family members.

And it’s Hard Core. Seriously Hard Core. A 2005 Hard Core made up of 60% mourvedre, 25% grenache, and 15% cabernet sauvignon.

Only 665 cases of this wine was produced, and it’s all gone except for what might be in people’s cellars–and a handful of splits which I found at the winery when we went by the other day.

We went to the Core winery as part of a wedding anniversary extravaganza (ok we went to Sycamore Hot Springs, Go Westy, Los Olivos for lunch and tasting at Carhartts and Carina) that started with dinner on our anniversary where I brought in a bottle of the 2006 Hard Core. While I prefer my syrah with mourvedre and grenache, my husband definitely prefers his syrah with a backbone of cab to it. So when I saw and tasted this blend of 29% mourvedre, 24% grenache, 27% syrah, and 20% cab, I splurged on it for $25 at the Ventura Wine Company, not knowing what the occasion might be and just wanting to have it around. (From the winery it’s $29.)

Learn more about 2006 Hard Core

He loved it. We loved it. He kept saying over and over what a good wine it was and wondering why all wine wasn’t as good as this one.

But I digress.  And the 2006 doesn’t even have the minimum mourvedre requirement of 50%!

I’m going to have to save for another blog post all that I want to say about Core Wines, and the other wines that Dave and Becky Corey make, and about their ethics and everything. I’ve met them both and they are truly delightful people, full of heart, raising a family, being a community.

And like us, Dave’s a big cyclist–hence his straight mourvedre, Mister Moreved. But as much as I liked Mr M, and would have loved to have reviewed it for this Wine Blogging Wednesday, it was the Hard Core that stole my heart and since they had splits of the 2005 on sale for $10 (and then she gave them to me for $7.50!), that’s what I went with–four splits which we are drinking up lickety split! (Actually, we went away with a case…more on that in a future post).

And why? It might be because the grapes come from up high, Alta Vista and Santa Barbara Highlands, and they have to struggle a bit more. Or maybe it’s the 21 months in 70% New French Oak followed by 7 more months in bottle before release and now I’m drinking it even further down the road. It might be that Dave is involved in every aspect of the wine–from the grapes on the wine to the bottle, riding his bike to the vineyard as often as possible.

The color as I poured it into the glass is a gorgeous deep purple grape juice; in the glass, there’s a hint of coral. In the nose, I found lots of nice floral notes, roses and lavender, some mint, and red fruits of strawberry and raspberry.

So much for swirl and sniff. Now to swallow! Right off the bat, it seems to me the 2005 and the 2006 don’t have much in common beyond the name, that they are blends, and that they are both wonderful. The 2005 is smooth and balanced even though the alcohol is high at 14.9%. There’s still plenty of red fruit character with cranberry coming in on the palate, adn that sagey-minty musky-ness I associate with mourvedre. I’d suspect with these tannins the wine could cellar for a few more years. The finish is rich and oily, almost like walnut oil; the bittersweet toasted flavor of walnuts lingers on and on. I like it a lot.

And I’m not even going to go into how wonderful it is with lamb or a picnic at the Santa Barbara Botanical Gardens for Mother’s Day…(yes this is what I chose over a sparking wine!)

So if you happen to be in the minute central coast town of Orcutt, just south of Santa Maria and maybe 20 minutes from the Sideways mecca of Los Olivos, make your way to Core winery and pick some up splits for yourself. Then take all that’s left, and hide it like a bone for me to dig out of my cellar later!

Oh and friend them on facebook–you’ll find out about great deals that way!

Please forgive any typos…it’s late and I’m past deadline! I’ve been working on a new website and a new business, The Write Alley. But I just couldn’t let this Wine Blogging Wednesday pass me by! I’ll add more links and clean it up when I get a chance. Sorry!

4 thoughts on “Wine Blogging Wednesday #69: Did you hear me howling “mourvedre”?

  1. Thanks for participating in WBW#69. I have enjoyed the Core wines too, though have not tasted the 05 Hard Core, but it sounds like something I would very much enjoy.

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  2. I do like Carina and Tensley! I’ve tasted at Carina 3x now and Tensley 1x with you; Carina does more with mourvedre as I recall. But I wanted to tell this story about Core…and I didn’t have any of Carina or Tensley around to write about for this prompt. Thanks for commenting, Tim!

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